Calling: You Are Not in Control
You are not in control. Yes, this is indeed true. You and I are not in control. Everything we do is subject to God’s providence. This is an important point to bear in mind with respect to our pursuit of calling specifically and to our lives generally. In our present era, there has never been a greater premium placed on the crafting and controlling a personal narrative. I can control my health, my career, my future and my happiness. What happens, however, when there is an intervention beyond our control?
Life happens. There are unexpected shocks to our equilibrium: job loss, relationships terminated, health challenges, and the like. One of the most telling situations is when someone is diagnosed with a major health issue. Let’s say an individual is told that they have pancreatic cancer and that they only have months to live. In many instances, the person goes into denial. They had not planned on living only mere months. They had wanted to do a number of things. At the core, they were in control. The patient often denies their new reality, not telling close family members, not doing their will and estate planning, and not making end of life arrangements.
Often when traumatic and unexpected events happen there at two aspects at play. First, there are the actual consequences of the event. For example, if it is a health-related diagnosis then there are the practical steps of going to the doctor, getting care and the like. Secondly, there is the psychological aspect, the disorientation of not being in control. How does a person come to grips with that?
What is a Christian perspective? A biblical worldview will not delude us into thinking we are in control. Indeed, we must live our lives with the full notion that everything is subject to “God willing.” In Victorian England, for example, correspondence would often end with “God willing.” That form of acknowledgement is rarely used anymore. It’s “you’re not the boss of me” writ large.
We should always live with the idea that we can expect the unexpected. Thomas a Kemp said, “Man proposes, God disposes.” This approach also impacts the nature of our life planning. As Proverb 16:9 states:
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
Jeremiah 10:23 notes:
“I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.”
Or, as the poet Robert Burns long ago noted in a lighthearted vein,
“The best laid plans of men and mice are rend asunder.”
We do not know the quality of our days and we don’t know the number of our days. There are 34 biblical references that our days are literally numbered. It is appointed to man, once to be born and once to die. The Psalmist notes,
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
– (Psalm 139:16).
We pursue our calling within the bookends of life, within the time allotted, according to God’s plan and not our own.
Given that we are not in control, how do we understand calling? Calling cannot be viewed in an objective way. All of us will have varying lifespans, degrees of health, different country environments. We will each have a different canvas and paints with which to write our life story. As a result, we need to be content and satisfied to live out our calling with “the hand we have been dealt.”
In the midst of life’s challenges we pursue our calling. We are to run the race, strive for excellence—and yet be aware it is within certain boundaries.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
– (Psalm 90:12).
With a knowledge of the finiteness of our days, should come the wisdom to use the opportunity appropriately. It is like playing a game to do your best, but within the parameter established, recognizing that there is a set of rules within which everyone operates.
The bottom line is that our Christian worldview and our balanced sense of calling should determine how we respond to circumstances. We are not in control. We need to recognize that. We work with what we have. We do the best in the circumstances. We are being prepared for what is yet to come. We need to always embrace the challenges of our new reality. We are only responsible to live up to that to which we—and no one else—has been called.
Originally posted on Entrepreneurial Leaders Organization.